Estate planning includes financial planning and the preparation of legally important documents. Therefore, it is recommended that you incorporate the advice of your financial advisor, accountant, insurance broker, and other financial professionals with the advice of your attorney. Thoughtful planning will help to create an estate plan to protect your family’s needs.
Like financial plans, your estate plan should be reviewed and revised upon the event of major life changes including marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, remarriage, or the purchase of a home, to name but a few.
The documents to be considered in an estate plan may include your Last Will and Testament, a Trust, a General Durable Power of Attorney, a Living Will Declaration and a Health Care Power of Attorney.
- Last Will and Testament:
- This legal document allows you to appoint a Personal Representative to handle your estate, upon your passing, in accordance with your intentions. In the absence of a Will, the State will make decisions for you with respect to your estate and its distribution to your heirs.
- It is important to remember that a Trust is not necessary in every case. There are some things that may only be accomplished by a Will. However, in some circumstances a Trust may be suitable.
- General Durable Power of Attorney:
- This document shall become effective upon your incapacity and disability wherein you are no longer able to personally handle your financial and business affairs, or take care of your personal needs.
- Living Will Declaration:
- It is important to remember that this document shall become effective when it has been determined and certified by your physician that you have a terminal condition whereby death shall occur within a short time, and the use of life prolonging procedures will serve only to artificially prolong the dying process.
- Health Care Power of Attorney:
- This advance healthcare directive authorizes your appointed health care representative to make decisions on your behalf and act for you in all matters concerning your health care when you are unable to do so. It does not limit or affect your ability to make your own health care decisions when you are able to do so.
- Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information:
- Otherwise known as a HIPAA Waiver, this document authorizes disclosure to named individuals of all of your identifiable health care information, reports, and/or records concerning your medical history, condition, diagnosis, testing, prognosis, billing information and identity of health care providers. It should include the name of any person(s) you want to have information about your health.